McCOMB, Ohio—Flexibility in both form and function has been the focus of the Crushproof Tubing Co. since its inception in 1949.
With two new lines, Flex Flow hoses and its Simple Drain series, the ability to adapt to both market niches and unforeseen industry volatility continues for the Northwest Ohio-based company that first specialized in garage exhaust hoses for the automotive aftermarket.
"We are extremely diverse," said Todd Grayson, director of product development at Crushproof. "We dabble in every major industry on the planet. Auto has been soft, as dealerships are not putting in exhaust systems, and that part is getting killed. But we do breathing safety hoses for medical devices, and that part is booming."
Crushproof, deemed an essential business during the coronavirus pandemic, finds itself in the black overall, a trend that the company expects to continue with the early April release of its Flex Flow line of EPDM hoses for the commercial laundry industry.
Using a two-stage process that begins with a rubber extrusion profile, Flex Flow hoses are placed in an autoclave, "a giant, humid oven" that uses heat and steam pressure to form the hoses, Grayson said.
The use of the relatively inexpensive EPDM, rather than solvent-welded polyvinyl chloride, gives durability to the Flex Flow line and a performance that is unaffected by UV light, ozone, detergents, bleaches or high temperatures, Grayson said.
"We use exclusively EPDM, and these hoses focus on laundry drainage equipment, an industry that encounters all kinds of cleaning chemicals in general," Grayson said. "You never know what people will throw in there. EPDM allows for cost-effectiveness, chemical resistance, heat resistance through a wide range of temperatures and temperature cycles, as well as dry rot resistance."
In addition, Crushproof said its Flex Flow line boasts easier and more efficient installation than PVC, with up to a 20:1 installation rate in improved assembly time. Without as many seams and connections as PVC, Flex Flow hoses can reduce leak points, and they tend not to break when large laundry machines vibrate and move about during their cycles.
"They allow for movement and flexibility during all this, meaning less downtime and fewer maintenance repairs," Grayson said. "Through servicing the machines, maintenance workers can easily disconnect and reconnect the Flex Flow hoses. And, depending on adaptability and sizes used, one can reuse the setup. With PVC, you have to disassemble it and redo the entire fixture."
Because the target market for the Flex Flow line is the laundry community in hotels, hospitality facilities, nursing homes and assisted living places, the hookups are broadly standardized, Grayson noted.
The hoses fit 2- to 4-inch PVC fittings and machines, typical sizes for the laundry industry. And they work well in tight, confined spaces, with the ability to wrap around poles, make tight turns and conform to odd angles.
"With our seamless construction method, there is nothing to separate, de-laminate, loosen or unglue, and that means fewer failure points over time," Grayson said. "There are no leak points in the hose and each end provides a clamped rubber seal that's easy to remove, adjust or inspect if necessary.
"Our system is a drastic improvement over the traditional solvent-welded PVC pipe method."
Beyond the commercial laundry industry, the Flex Flow line is used in industrial parts washing, using a hot water and chemical bath, according to Grayson.